Bar Height vs. Counter Heights for Stools and Tables: What’s the Difference?

When choosing tables and stools for your outdoor oasis, it can sometimes be tricky deciding which style and heights fit your setup best. Your goals for your outdoor space will ultimately determine the style of set you choose. 

In this blog, we go over the three standard heights for tables and stools, the uses for counter and bar heights, and offer a few furniture suggestions to create your outdoor haven.


What are the Different Table and Stool Heights?

Whenever you’re shopping for outdoor tables and stools, they typically come in three different heights: dining, counter, and bar. Let’s take a look at the differences between each style.

Dining Height

Dining-height tables are about 28 to 30 inches high, while the seat heights of dining stools and chairs are somewhere between 17 to 20 inches high. These heights are the most common and widely available tables and stools, no matter whether they’re designed for indoor or outdoor use. 

Due to their popularity, there are several more sizes, styles, and material types you can choose from than counter- and bar-height sets. Most people prefer dining-height tables and stools because their feet can easily touch the floor, making it a more comfortable sitting experience. They’re also handicap accessible.

Chippendale 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Dining Arm Chair Set
Chippendale 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Dining Arm Chair Set

Counter Height

Counter-height tables typically measure between 34 to 36 inches, and the seat heights of counter stools and chairs usually range between 24 to 27 inches. These tables are about the same height as your kitchen counter or island — hence the name!

If your outdoor space is on the smaller side, a counter-height set is a sound choice for a few reasons. For one, counter-height tables tend to boast more compact tops. Additionally, their greater height makes your outdoor area seem larger than it actually is. Overall, these sets can complement casual gathering spots such as breakfast nooks and entertaining spaces with ease. 

Braxton 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Arm Chair Counter Set
Braxton 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Arm Chair Counter Set

Bar Height

Bar height is the tallest option available. Bar-height tables usually measure between 40 to 42 inches high. In comparison, the seat heights of bar stools and chairs are anywhere between 28 to 33 inches

As the name suggests, these sets are what you usually see at your nearest bar or pub. Just like with counter-height sets, bar-height sets typically provide compact tabletop space, allowing them to fit into places where traditional dining tables can’t. Their height creates a relaxed feel that often blurs the line between sitting and standing, making them a solid choice for anyone who loves to entertain. 

Modern Adirondack 9-Piece Farmhouse Bar Set
Modern Adirondack 9-Piece Farmhouse Bar Set

Choosing Bar-Height vs. Counter-Height Tables and Stools

The terms “bar height” and “counter height” are often used interchangeably. However, besides the height, there’s a subtle difference between the two. Counter-height tables and chairs are useful for relaxing and enjoying a casual gathering. On the other hand, bar-height tables and stools are better if you’re looking to create a more traditional bar look. 

In the end, it’s entirely up to you how you use these types of outdoor furniture! Consider some of these ideas to help you create your ideal outdoor oasis.

Counter Height

  • Dinner al fresco: If the weather is nice enough, take your meal outside! Take in the great outdoors as you enjoy a relaxing evening alongside your loved ones.
  • Your morning cup of coffee: Watch the sun peek above the horizon as you take a sip of your freshly brewed cup of joe.
  • Afternoon hangout: Whether it’s with your friend or favorite co-worker, counter height furniture makes it comfortable to take a load off and chat about anything that’s on your mind.
Braxton 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Arm Chair Counter Set
Braxton 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Arm Chair Counter Set

Bar Height

  • Watching the big game: With the right bar-height table and stools, you and your buddies can cheer on your favorite team like you’re at your local bar.
  • Cocktail party: A cocktail party is an excellent way to show off your outdoor bar furniture and get your guests to sip and savor some of your homemade recipes.
  • New Year’s celebration: There’s a lot of moving around and mingling at New Year’s parties. Whenever you or your guests need to take a seat, bar-height tables and stools make a stylish and functional option.
La Casa Café Bar Arm Chair
La Casa Café Bar Arm Chair

POLYWOOD Counter and Bar Sets

POLYWOOD® outdoor furniture not only makes gatherings more comfortable and inviting but also eco-friendly. Consider some of these counter and bar sets for your outdoor haven.

Signature 3-Piece Bar Set 

Ideal for smaller spaces, the Signature 3-Piece Bar Set perfectly sets the scene for an intimate brunch or happy hour thanks to its classic, comfortable design. It’s available in a variety of beautiful, fade-resistant colors, making it easy to complement your current outdoor décor.

Signature 3-Piece Bar Set
Signature 3-Piece Bar Set

La Casa Café 5-Piece Counter Set 

The La Casa Cafe 5-Piece Counter Set provides a relaxing, stylish setting for game nights or hangouts with pals. Plus, this set is constructed with our all-weather material built to withstand all four seasons, so you can enjoy your furniture for many years to come.

La Casa Café 5-Piece Counter Set
La Casa Café 5-Piece Counter Set

Vineyard 9-Piece Nautical Trestle Bar Set

For those who live along the coast, the Vineyard 9-Piece Nautical Trestle Bar Set is an attractive centerpiece from where you and your guests can admire the beauty of the ocean. 

Vineyard 9-Piece Nautical Trestle Bar Set
Vineyard 9-Piece Nautical Trestle Bar Set

Braxton 7-Piece Farmhouse Counter Set in Vintage Finish

If you have plenty of room on your deck or patio, the Braxton 7-Piece Farmhouse Counter Set in Vintage Finish makes the perfect spot for outdoor barbecues. Don’t worry about the mess, either! Just clean with soap and water and disinfect it with a homemade bleach mixture. 

Braxton 7-Piece Farmhouse Counter Set in Vintage Finish
Braxton 7-Piece Farmhouse Counter Set in Vintage Finish

The Bottom Line

We’ve offered you some great ideas for what you can do with counter and bar sets. But before you shop, here’s a quick recap of the different heights available and some rules of thumb to consider.

Quick Reference Guide for Heights

  • Dining-Height Tables: 28 to 30 inches
  • Dining-Height Chairs and Stools: 17 to 20 inches (seat height)
  • Counter-Height Tables: 34 to 36 inches
  • Counter-Height Chairs and Stools: 24 to 27 inches (seat height)
  • Bar-Height Tables: 40 to 42 inches 
  • Bar-Height Chairs and Stools: 28 to 33 inches (seat height)

Rules of Thumb

  • Leave about 9 to 13 inches from the seat of the stool or chair to the table’s underside: This measurement ensures optimal comfort, allowing guests to slide in and out their chairs comfortably. If the chair or stool has arms, be sure to account for those in the height measurement.
  • Position your chairs or stools about 24 inches apart from each other: This guideline helps prevent overcrowding so that everyone can enjoy each other’s company without bumping elbows.

Do you have an outdoor bar or counter set in your home? Let us know in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “Bar Height vs. Counter Heights for Stools and Tables: What’s the Difference?

  1. I am a height of 5″5 and have followed your mentioned guide, yet I cannot find any suitable desk for my need. Am I simply too short of having a nice desk? My back hurts frequently and I urgently need help to assist my posture.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thank you for reaching out! To assist with preventing back pain, we have found it useful to make sure that you have the ability to rest your feet on a stool or footrest and to also use a pillow for lumbar support. I hope this helps!

      All the best!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *